Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why we allow God to plan our family size.

( Allow? Allow God? Who am I to allow God? )

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6

Sometimes people ask me what scripture we base our family size on.

I think they expect me to quote verses like

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” - Psalm 127:3-5

Or to quote all the "Be fruitful and multiply" verses.

Or they expect me to recant how, throughout the Bible, God considers children a blessing to be desired (in the stories of Abraham & Sarah... of Isaac & Rebecca... of Rachel & Leah... of Hannah)

But for us it was not only what we found in scripture, but in looking at God's original perfect design. He did not create birth control. He made us to *naturally* have many babies. There was a study last year that showed our bodies actually do not do well menstruating month after month, because they were not intended to do that. They were created to have babies.

Generations were intended to overlap - Families were meant to be a seamless garment. God did not create The Generation Gap... humans did. Now that our children have an age span of 6 months to 18 years, I see clearly how God intended that in His creation the older children would come along side the aging parents and "fill in the gap"... that older children would grow comfortable with babies before moving on to have their own babies. That the younger children would grow comfortable with nieces and nephews before moving on to have their own babies...

It was an incredible feeling to feel the immense relief and joy we felt when we fully gave it all over to God. I never thought there would be such freedom when we let go of the "should we have more, shouldn't we" have more children decision, and gave it over to God. It was such a relief to let go of it, and let Someone far wiser take over.

God's plans are perfect... Baby after baby I have seen how perfect those plans are. It fills one with peace to know that there is an entire Bible full of all those scriptures that illuminate it as His perfect and flawless plan.

He created our fallopian tubes... how could I go and cut them and tie them? Are there any other parts of our body that we decide to go and *make them* stop working? Why would I mess with His design when His design is perfect? He is not going to let me give birth to any people He doesn't want existing... why would I take that power onto myself? WHO am I to tell Him who is necessary or unnecessary on this earth? He knows far better than I do! He sees the past, present and future. He knows the plans He has set out. It just seems crazy for me to want to interfere with my limited vision.

No, pregnancy is not easy. I have had hyperemesis gravidarum so bad I have been dangerously dehydrated and lost 36 lbs. I have had a few miscarriages that I have grieved. I have had gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia. I was told to abort Catherine to save my own life. Nevertheless, these experiences have only been opportunities for God to show me His grace! If we have life so perfect, why would we need God?

Both Elizabeth and Jane are my right hand women. If I am sick with morning sickness, or recovering with much pain from a cesarean section, I do not even have to say a word, but my big girls take over, cook dinner and get babies to bed! I will be lying down thinking "I need to get up and start something in the kitchen" and when I arrive in the kitchen, dinner is already started! My children are such an immense blessing! It is not just words to say, "Children are a blessing"... they actually are!

When they are all young it is easy to lose sight that we'll reap rewards for our efforts. A two, 3, 4, 5 year old can be such a tyrant/mess maker/whiner! Yet as they get older, the family unit works together so that the burden is lighter. The joys are multiplied, the burdens are divided. You have multiple people who think your baby is just as cute as you think she is. You have multiple people who see the toddler do something cute, and laugh with you for days afterwards. You have multiple people to make sure the 4 year old does not make a huge toothpaste mess while brushing her teeth. You have multiple people to keep an eye on the babies during naptime so you can go for a swim or take a nap yourself. You have multiple people to help fold laundry, clear the dinner table, weed the garden, and, not only does it make less work, but it makes the work that there is far more enjoyable.

People ask, “When you have so many children how do you make sure they get enough attention?” Are you kidding? Do you know how many hugs and kisses are lavished on people in this house? I can guarantee you that my 21 month old gets far more hugs and laps and boo-boos kissed and books read to her at home in a large family than she would have, had I not had her siblings and had I instead put her in a daycare, and went off to work. You really do not need to worry about my children getting enough attention.  Not only do they have a mom at home with ready arms, they have six playmates and friends who have learned how to co-exist peacefully!

I planted a small garden this year... Catherine and Lydia seize any weed that dares come up. Mary and Catherine are both eager to water at the slightest sign of wilt... mostly so they can get each other wet, but hey, the plants benefit. Together we sat eagerly waiting with our toast and mayo, waiting for those tomatoes to be just right for our first tomato sandwich of the season.

My older kids reinforce good character in the younger ones... the burden does not all fall on us as parents. They reinforce by example, they reinforce by telling the stories of the consequences they suffered when they made a bad decision, they reinforce by knowing the rules of this house, and gently guiding the younger siblings with "Papa said..." or "Mama said..."

The older ones include the younger ones in baking bread, in playing games, in doing hair, in holding baby chicks. They comfort them when they are sad. They read stories to them. Though I may feel stretched mothering such a large span of ages that have different needs and different appointments here and there… In other things, my burden is much lighter. I often look at my children interacting together, the older heads bent down beside the younger ones, and I feel so full to bursting, so immensely blessed, so incredibly rich... with blessings pressed down, shaken together, and spilling over... even with awful morning sickness, miscarriages, high risk pregnancies due to several health issues and living with multiple sclerosis... The shadows of those "sufferings" pale by far in the Light of His Grace.


noelle said...

This is really beautiful. I have 6 children, ages 2-12, and can relate to much of what you say. I love seeing my family together playing and enjoying each other. And I love seeing how the older ones benefit so much from remembering the little ones everyday.

Thanks for sharing.

Jenni said...

How eloquent and true, Heather...simply beautiful. Psalm 3:5 & 6 are my favorite scriptures too!

Anonymous said...

wow. You are an inspiration. What you just wrote about your family is beautiful! Your kids are truly blessed to have you as their mommy.

Mamalama said...

Oh, My Friend--that was beautiful, just beautiful. Preach it, Sister.

Sweet Blessings said...

Very eloquently said:) We have a natural gap-it's been totally up to God, but he has blessed us with 2 more (well one is 15months and one is due in April-the two younger ones will be 18months apart). Our oldest ones are 12 and 8. I am so thankful and blessed as I watch them all interact with one another. I am in awe of God's blessing and timing. We did have a miscarriage before the last one- i didn't know what was up-but just said your will be done Lord. Thank you for sharing:) Amanda
PS. We will have 4 girls total:)

Anonymous said...

I see that there is a large gap from the two oldest to your third.

At what age did you decide to let God have control? I was thinking you had children at least a year apart.

I would love to hear your story?

I am 39 with two daughters 14 and 11. I have thought of more children and then think of the age gap.

I would love to hear your wisom:)


Jeanette in WA said...

I was really blessed to read this post about your family. Thank you very much for sharing.

Kimberly said...

Your post really touched my heart,my oldest son will be 21 in a few weeks, and my youngest daughter just had her 1st birthday. It is a joy to watch my older children interact with my babies. We have 9 children,I have had 3 miscarriages. I am leaving the possibility of more children in Gods' hands, I do in my human frailty have real concerns. 11 pregnancies, 3 c-sections, multiple hospitilizations, gestational diabetes, and now fibromialgia. On the upside, my mother thinks I'm 42, when in August, I turned 43. I am from a large family too.

Anonymous said...

Your post is so full of truth. I believe it so deeply as I was denied it. I always wanted a large family, but my husband was not in agreement. I have prayed for 20 yrs that the Lord would override my husbands decision. but as a approach my 44th birthday I am trying to find peace with the fact of it not happening. We are not meant to have this empty gap, it should be seamless from one gen to the other. I am a grandma to 2 and 1/2 but they live far away from me. The emptiness I would not wish on anyone.

Anonymous said...

I am writing to the anonymous above...I understand your pain. I am Afraid of being you in a few years. My husband has told me we could have more but I can tell he is just trying to be nice and he doesn't truly understand the desire God puts on your heart. I also pray for the surprise each month...the prayer of letting God work a miracle. I have been so up-set the last few monthes that I have even withheld love from my husband because we were using birth control which I felt was wrong.

I have now given in in letting God be God and I have repented and surrender to my husband. I know God knows what is best:) I still wouldn't mind a Surprise.

I will be praying for your surprise too!

A Sister in Christ

ladyofvirtue said...

I read your post nodding in agreement. Excellent job in explaining some of the


Misty M. said...

Hello, I wanted to tell you how inspiring this was to me. I guess I realized something important when I read the title of your post and also the fact that you have 7 girls and I just started tearing up wiht joy about it. That may sound funny, but I guess the fact is that lately I have been trying to ignore the fact that I basically believe we should let God choose our spacing and how many children we have. It is very easy to ignore that tugging thought since nowbody we know our age feels the same. In fact, most of them aer having srugeries after only two children so that they won't have more. I can't imagine how I will feel when that day comes where we feel like we have "enough" Right now I haven't had to deal with it yet. I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old. The gap inbetween wasn't really intended. I breastfed for a year and that worked as birth control and then I had a miscarriage and waited 3 months and got pregnant with our daughter. Now I am still breastfeeding her so it hreally hasn't come up again yet. I think my husband is willing to let God choose, but I am the one who has been known lately to say....a little time between this one and the next would be good. Really, we are in a fix right now. I am at home with the little ones and my husband has experienced some layouffs, we don't know if we will lose our house soon. I am having faith about it, but really, the ultimate step of faith would be to allow a pregnancy right now if God were to send one. I also know that we would finally cross the line with our families being supportive. Well, even when we had the second pregnancy end in miscarriage my mother-in-law called me up to say "see, God doesn't want you to have any more" and that was after only one!
Anyway, thank you for your words of truth. I will be sharing this with my husband later today. God Bless you and your dear family!

Miss Rose Virginia said...

This truly touched my heart. I simply had to post a link to Facebook! Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am only 24 and my husband and I are expecting our first baby any day (my due date is actually today!), but the words you wrote reflect exactly what I feel God impressed upon us a little over 9 months ago. We had used birth control for our first year of marriage without much thought. That's what everyone does, right? It seems in our culture, even among Christians, that choosing one's family size is just a given part of marriage...but like you said, who am I to decide which babies should be born and which should not? I'm so encouraged to read about your experience with your children and how it has come to be such a blessing despite health issues. If God's purpose for a particular woman's life is to bear children that can grow up to be a light for Him, then perhaps the toll on our bodies is part of the sacrifice required...a small price to pay in the big picture. Thanks again. :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you got your blessings, but you fail to mention the other side of the coin when you talk about trusting God--infertility. I trusted God, and got nowhere, am childless. I'm just asking you be a little more sensitive about what you post--sure, you have the right to be happy, but I felt your expression of your happiness was over the top, and can remind infertiles of what they cannot have. Please be considerate to those who are not blessed as much as you.

Hind's Feet said...

Dear anonymous, I spent a total of 16 years struggling with infertility also. It's not a side of the coin I'm unfamiliar with, and I do know the pain. However, it does not steal the joy I have now. I'm sorry you are in pain, yet it is my blog, and my opinion, and you are welcome not to read it.

Emily said...

This blog brought a tear to my eye. There is no way that a mother expressing her love and joy is over the top. For anyone experiencing infertility there are some very precious promises in the Word of God. Psalm 113:9 says "He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise you the LORD." There are many amazing stories of women in the Bible that were barren and God visited them and gave them the ability to have children. Ask believing that Father God loves you and will answer you according to His will and His Word. According to the scripture God says that "Children are the heritage of the Lord" and a blessing from God. I believe He wants all His children to experience this blessing. Ask Him beleiving. There is also always adoption- my husband and I want a big family and also to adopt.